HELP! Newly planted Hydrangea tree is dying?

precious4bags(5)September 26, 2012

I bought an healthy looking Limelight hydrangea TREE from a nursery two and a halftime week ago.

We planted it in the ground 10 days ago. 4-5 days after planted, the leaves became wilted. Then, I thought it was because we did nit water it regularly so we tried to water more. A couple of days ago, the leaves became brown and wilted(pls click link beneath for pic). Now, it looked like it is dying.

What is wrong with my pricey hydrangea? How do I fix it?

I am very worried about it!

Thanks in advance

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Looks a lot like transplant stress combined with insufficient water. If you are located in those areas of the country that are still experiencing a lot of heat and a prolonged dry spell, this is not at all uncommon.

Watering at this time is critical! Slow, deep watering as often as necessary to keep the soil surrounding the root ball evenly moist. You may have to test to see how long a period and how frequently you may need to do this but you will need to continue until fall rains take over.

Most plants bounce back from transplant shock rather successfully, provided watering is not neglected. I'd not worry too much about the crispy leaves at this time of the season either. They'll all be dropping sooner rather than later anyway.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 5:18PM
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Thanks Gardengal48!

We are in Chicago and the weather was not that hot after we planted it.

We put Weedgaurd (fabric) on top of the soil and put mulch on top when we planted the tree. I don not know if that affected thing negatively in planted a new tree at all. With this fact, do we have to da anything differently about watering?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2012 at 9:33AM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

Some people will swear by landscape fabric but generally speaking gardeners, myself included are more likely to swear at it. In spite of the claims made on the fabric rolls, they do not allow all of the water through. It also makes it difficult to check soil moisture. As gardengal said, slow deep watering, check the soil to be sure the water is getting down to the root zone. You should also keep the mulch from touching the trunk as it can promote rot and allow mice and voles to stay undercover while nibbling at the bark.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 11:19PM
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Landscape fabric on top of the root ball is not a good idea. Landscape fabric should be used where you don't want anything to grow. I'd suggest pulling it back off the root ball and do what the other's recommed regarding the deep watering. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 9:19AM
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I live in the tropics where it is quite warm and humid. A friend of mine gave me a cutting of the Nikko Blue hydrangea a year ago.

So far so good as it rooted well.

Unfortunately, it would not progress any further and is quite stunted as you can see. The leaves are also quite pale and brown on the edges.

I've moved it to a position where there is hardly any sun but it has not done any good!

Could you help me out? Thanks!!!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Your soil appears to be quite alkaline and this makes the leaves turn light green to yellow, except for the leaf veins which remain dark green. I suggest you amend the soil with products which will acidify it.

Some examples are garden Sulphur, green sand, aluminum sulfate, iron sulfate or liquid iron chelated compounds. The first ones are slow acting and the liquids help correct iron chlorosis faster (although it still will take a while to correct the look of the leaves). Most nurseries will hopefully carry one or several of these. Other products that will acidify very little but which are still good choices are coffee grounds and even vinegar diluted in water (but vinegar breaks down easily and needs tto be reapplied very often so, being lazy, I would go with the other products.

Another suggestion is to apply 3-4" of mulch up to the drip line of the plant so the soil remains as evenly moist as possible. The mulch will also maintain the soil moist for longer periods so you do not have to water often. Acidic mulch like pine needles and such will help acidify the topmost part of the soil only so feel free to use other muulches like straw or hardwood mulch.

The soil in the picture looks dry so try to maintain the soil moist as evenly as possible. Try not to have periods of dry soil, followed by periods of wet/moist soil, followed again by periods of dry soil & so forth. Give the plant about 1/2 gallon to 1 gallon of water early in the mornings. Water the soil and not the leaves. To help determine when to water, try using the finger method....

Early in the mornings and for 2-3 weeks daily, insert a finger into the soil to a depth of about 4". If the soil feels dry or almost dry then water. Otherwise, do not water. Every time that you water, write a note in a wall calendar indicating that you watered on that day. After 2-3 weeks, look at the notes and determine how often you are watering. If you watered -for example- every 3 days, set your sprinkler to water 1 gallon of water every 3 days. If the temperatures change 10 degress in either direction or if you enter a period when you receive a lot of rain (or no rain), retest for another 2-3 weeks.

Since your growing season is so long, consider trying some of the reblooming hydrangeas too! Nikko will bloom once per year and it is kind of nice to get brand new blooms now and then. I visited the tropics during Xmas and was usually greeted by brown blooms in the Hortensias.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:36PM
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Hi Luis,

thanks for your advice. I'll try to regulate the soil acidity soon.

The reblooming hydrangeas seem like a must too so I should probably make the most of it!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:47AM
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